The Defense Production Act of 1950 was passed at the start of the Korean War to direct military production in times of exigent need.
The law “confers upon the President a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense,” according to the Congressional Research Service.
“The authorities can be used across the federal government to shape the domestic industrial base so that, when called upon, it is capable of providing essential materials and goods needed for the national defense,” it says.
At the dawn of the coronavirus pandemic, it was invoked by then-President Donald Trump’s administration to produce equipment such as ventilators and masks. This wasn’t what it was designed for — but fair enough, given the circumstances.
As for President Joe Biden, he thinks the situation is urgent enough that America needs the DPA invoked so we can get batteries for electric cars.
(As The Western Journal has been reporting, the Biden administration is obsessed with putting electric vehicles on American roadways — all while it barely notices sky-high gas prices and claims it can’t do anything about them. We’ll keep reminding America why this isn’t so. You can help us by subscribing.)
According to The Hill, the Biden administration will invoke the Defense Production Act “to step up production of minerals used to manufacture electric vehicle batteries.”
These minerals include lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel and manganese.
The move also would allow mining companies to access $750 million from DPA’s Title III funding.
“Biden is set to issue a presidential determination to stoke domestic production of the minerals, which are used for both stationary batteries and vehicles,” The Hill reported, adding that its source “emphasized that the production will not bypass existing permitting or environmental review processes.”
The source said the money wouldn’t be used for direct purchases of materials or loans to mining concerns. Instead, it would fund “feasibility studies, co-product and by-product production at current operations, and productivity/safety modernizations.”
As The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, while the Biden administration wants Americans to make the switch to electric vehicles as part of its carbon reduction plan, there are several countries on which the United States is highly reliant to get minerals critical to battery production.
The price of those minerals has gone up considerably as EVs have become more popular.
“Industry officials said invoking the Defense Production Act would be a small but potentially important step for businesses that are increasingly looking for financing,” the Journal reported.
“The government funding could encourage mines to consider adding processing operations — now almost completely absent in the U.S. — and persuade lenders and investors that the government won’t impede U.S. mining development, lobbyists said. But the industry would need more money from Congress or Wall Street to make a major difference, they said.”
Rich Nolan, head of the National Mining Association, told the outlet, “This is a historic move by the administration to begin to address a critical supply chain shortage.”
“It signals to the market this country is finally getting serious about domestic minerals production,” Nolan said.
Of course, there’s a question of who this enriches. Take Tesla, which sources aluminum and other materials from a Russian metals company, Rusal.
And, as The Wall Street Journal noted in a January article, China currently controls the world supply chain for EV minerals, even if they’re not produced there.
Seen one way, then, the DPA could be a method through which control over EV materials is returned to the United States. A bipartisan group of senators — Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy of Loisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and James Risch of Idaho — called for it to be invoked for battery minerals.
“Allowing our foreign mineral dependence to persist is a growing threat to U.S. national security, and we need to take every step to address it,” the group said this month in backing the idea.
Of course, there’s another way America could secure its transportation energy security — which would be to forget about the EV push and simply put its money into oil production and investment.
There are drilling permits that could be issued, pipelines that could be built, production that could be increased.
But no: Biden officials insist on using the DPA to secure minerals for EV batteries, because the road to energy independence for them rides through $50,000-plus electric vehicles.
How will this help the average American family? Who knows? Who cares? It strikes a blow for the administration’s agenda — and that, to the Biden team, is the only important thing.
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